|Container I used for brining|
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Brined Roast Turkey
The thought of cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner can be challenging; of course; because we are delivering an American icon to the table, that is we want our bird to be juicy, wonderful in flavor and texture. Soaking the turkey in brine will achieve all of these and another good thing, this process will also cut the cooking time.
For seven years now, every year I prepare my turkey this way. Brine is a simple solution of water, salt and sugar; your favorite spices and aromatics can be added to the solution. You need a container like a stock pot or a bucket that’s large enough to submerge the turkey; you also need to make a space in the refrigerator, in its lowest shelf. (This way it will be easier to take the container in and out) Okay, okay I can hear your tiny mumbling there already. Well, just look at it this way; it’s that time to clean the refrigerator. You’ll never know what you will find there in the back; you might find the left over casserole that you served to your in-laws the last time they visited; maybe some left over chinese take out that you’re supposed to have for lunch the next day; maybe a basket of strawberries because you want to try to make a strawberry pie; or maybe….. uh….err… sorry I got carried away there for a moment. Okay back to our turkey. You might be thinking that this is a lot of work, but let me assure you that it’s well worth it. Make sure that the turkey is completely thawed before you submerge it in the brine.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and Happy cooking!
The very first time I tried brining turkey, I adapted Wolfgang Puck’s (Spago) recipe; and then the following year, I tried Alton Brown’s (Food TV) recipe. And the next year after that, although inspired by two recipes, I tried a combination of both, choosing my favorite spices and aromatics, using ingredients that were on hand and my budget.
Here's my take on Brined Roast Turkey.
1 (14-16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon black peppercorn
12 bay leaves
1 gallon water
1 gallon ice cold water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple quartered
1 large onion quartered
5 sprigs of rosemary
8 leaves of sage
Extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
10 cloves of garlic peeled
2 cups apple cider
4 cups turkey broth or chicken broth
½ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Before making the brine, make sure that the turkey is completely thawed.
Combine one gallon water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, ground cloves and ground ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, place the turkey in the brining container, pour the cool brine and then pour the iced cold water, making sure that the turkey is fully immersed in the brine. Place a weight on top of the turkey (you can use a plate) to make sure it is always covered with brine. Marinate for at least 8 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
In a shallow roasting pan place the chopped onion, carrots, celery and peeled garlic. Position the roasting rack on top of the chopped vegetables. Take the turkey out from the brine. Rinse with cold tap water inside and out. Pat it dry with paper towels and place the turkey breast side up on the roasting rack. Tuck wings underneath the bird. Place apple, onion, rosemary and sage inside the cavity then drizzle oil and coat the skin well.
Roast turkey until the instant read-thermometer register at least 165 degrees F in the breast, this is about 2 1/2 hours. If the skin gets too dark during roasting, tent with foil.
Transfer turkey to a cutting board or a platter loosely covered with foil. Meanwhile, prepare the pan gravy.
For the pan gravy: Strain all the veggies over a bowl to separate them from the stock/mixture. Discard the veggies. Skim off the fat and add it to the roasting pan. This is the fat for the roux. Put the roasting pan over 2 burners and over a low heat and whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture looks like wet sand, about 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the apple cider and broth. Cook until the mixture has thickened and reached a gravy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a serving pitcher or bowl.